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  • The AK-47, one of the world's most iconic firearms- but we're willing to bet even you

  • don't know some of these crazy facts about this legendary rifle and its family of spinoffs.

  • 20.

  • It's everywhere

  • Clint Eastwood wasn't lying in Heartbreak Ridge, the AK-47 is one of the most popular

  • firearms ever made, and the top choice of America's enemies for over 50 years.

  • But it's not just her enemies who are equipped with the AK, it's her allies too.

  • With nearly 100 nations equipped with the AK family of assault rifles, it's without

  • doubt the most prolific battle rifle ever created.

  • There's a fair bit of irony in the fact that the Soviet Union out-marketed the free-wheeling

  • capitalists of America in the global firearms trade, but with the AK being cheap, easy to

  • manufacture, and ruggedly reliable, the weapon has been involved in conflicts on nearly every

  • continent.

  • Egypt even made a massive monument to the iconic rifle on the Sinai peninsula

  • 19.

  • Soviet made, but inspired by the Nazis

  • In World War II armies around the world faced a similar problem- heavy, large caliber rounds

  • were great for taking out enemy infantry, but the weight limited the amount of ammunition

  • a soldier could carry.

  • Further, they were too heavy for rapid-fire weapons that were not crew-served.

  • Lighter, pistol caliber rounds could allow soldiers to carry weapons with a high rate

  • of fire, but the small caliber had limited effectiveness and short ranges.

  • The Germans were the first to bridge the gap with the 7.92mm Kurz round, which would be

  • used in the Sturmgewehr 44, or StG44.

  • This fast-firing weapon allowed soldiers to fire the impactful 7.92mm round at a high

  • rate of fire, and benefited from increased range over a submachine gun.

  • The allies had no comparison- and the Soviets took note.

  • After the war, Mikhail Kalashnikov set about to create a new battle rifle inspired by the

  • German StG44.

  • 18.

  • Made to be tough

  • This wasn't the only lesson from World War II incorporated into the AK-47 however.

  • During the war, Soviet industry had been badly mauled by the Germans, and factories frequently

  • had to be quickly relocated to avoid advancing Nazi troops.

  • For those on the front lines, conditions were brutal, infamously rugged and a challenging

  • environment for any weapon system to operate in.

  • Thus the AK was designed with loose tolerances, giving it unparalleled reliability in even

  • the most extreme circumstances.

  • This did necessitate a trade-off in accuracy, but for the Soviets it was an acceptable compromise.

  • But the AK-47 was designed to win the most extreme of wars.

  • 17.

  • The weapon needed to win a total war

  • The United States may have faced the AK-47 in guerilla wars all around the world, but

  • the rifle's primary purpose was always to face off, and win against, America in a total

  • war scenario.

  • Soviet cold war planners envisioned the possibility of American aggression in Europe, and the

  • inevitable escalation to nuclear exchanges.

  • This would mean the complete annihilation of entire industry centers, which also meant

  • the AK-47 needed to be cheap, easy, and quick to mass produce.

  • Interestingly enough, the M-16 would itself turn out to be the more optimal choice for

  • such a total war scenario, as it didn't require the specialized stamping equipment that the

  • AK-47 needed.

  • This would allow the Americans to more widely distribute their manufacturing, while the

  • Soviets needed to protect and hoard specialized machines to pump out their battle rifles.

  • 16.

  • Not just a weapon, a tool of revolution

  • Russia's communists always knew their position was a perilous one- their workers-first message

  • struck a chord with exploited post-industrial revolution workers in many nations, prompting

  • harsh crackdowns by their respective governments.

  • As the Bolsheviks seized power in Russia, it was feared that the world would unite against

  • the fledgling Soviet republic.

  • Thus the concept of ongoing revolution was born, with the Soviet Union believing that

  • it needed to propagate global communist revolution in order to not be overwhelmed by the powerful

  • capitalist nations of the world.

  • This led to the AK-47 becoming a part of communist planned economies.

  • As communism spread to a nation, the AK came with it, so as to defend and continue to spread

  • the global revolution.

  • 15.

  • Its first true test was Vietnam

  • On paper, the AK was superior to any other battle rifle in the world- but war is a different

  • matter altogether.

  • The AK-47's trial by fire would come in Vietnam, as millions of the rifles were shipped to

  • North Vietnam and Viet Cong revolutionaries.

  • There in the jungles of Vietnam, America would come face to face with the AK-47, and be immediately

  • overwhelmed by it.

  • Having learned nothing from World War II, the United States still relied on slow, heavy

  • battle rifles that were incapable of suppressive fire.

  • Its antiquated way of thinking would result in a crisis upon entry into Vietnam, as US

  • troops were immediately outgunned by simple farmers.

  • This would prompt one of the fastest development and procurement programs in world history,

  • leading to the M-16.

  • But the biggest fans of the AK were its enemy.

  • 14.

  • Americans loved the AK

  • Even after being issued the M-16, many American soldiers preferred the AK-47.

  • While eventually becoming one of the best battle rifles ever created, the first few

  • iterations of the M-16 were incredibly unreliable, and often left US troops in a lurch in the

  • middle of a firefight.

  • This prompted many to loot AK-47s from the corpses of fallen enemy soldiers, resulting

  • in more than one unfortunate friendly fire incident as well.

  • 13.

  • US Special Forces especially loved the AK

  • Compared to anything in the US arsenal, the AK was simply superior at the start of the

  • Vietnam war, and American special forces quickly took note.

  • The 7.62mm rounds provided enough punch to tear through thick jungle cover at a high

  • rate of fire, and as a bonus the distinctive sound of the AK-47 firing often confused the

  • very same enemy they were engaging.

  • 12.

  • The Chinese loved it too

  • The Chinese were big fans of the AK-47 as well, so much so that they routinely stole

  • Russian shipments to North Vietnam and replaced the weapons with their own inferior copies.

  • These cheap Chinese knockoffs did not have the same durability and reliability of a Soviet

  • AK, and would end up costing many North Vietnamese and Viet Cong soldiers their lives.

  • And as it turns out, the AK was better at capitalism than America.

  • 11.

  • A global supply network

  • Capitalist America was supposed to be the one with the competitive advantage in global

  • markets, and it largely did- but the Soviets dominated the global arms industry thanks

  • to the AK-47.

  • The rifle was so widely disseminated that even fledgling revolutions in far-flung corners

  • of the world could be reliably supplied.

  • 10.

  • Even the US helped sell the AK

  • When the US began the process of building a national Afghan military and police force,

  • an inevitable choice had to be made on what to arm the Afghanis with.

  • It was assumed that the US would simply provide surplus M-16 and M-4s to these new forces-

  • but the Afghans outright refused the offer.

  • They wanted Kalashnikovs, not American rifles.

  • The reason was simple- most Afghans were already familiar with the weapon, and even more importantly

  • ammunition was easy to locally procure.

  • Thus the US was forced to buy Hungarian AK rifles to supply the fledgling police and

  • army forces.

  • 9.

  • No one knows how many really exist

  • The Soviet Union couldn't produce and export Kalashnikovs nearly fast enough- it was actually

  • a significant portion of the Soviet economy.

  • However, the mass production of the rifle and the fact that it was licensed for production

  • in over 30 countries- not counting those who illegally replicated it, such as China- means

  • that today no one really knows how many AKs were ever produced.

  • The best estimates place them at around 100 million, enough so that 1 out of every 60

  • people on earth could be armed with one.

  • But the AK would have a legacy unmatched by any other weapon in history.

  • 8.

  • Deadliest weapon ever created

  • The nuclear bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki killed tens of thousands.

  • Modern nuclear weapons could kill millions- but of all the weapons ever actually used

  • in combat, none even come close to the Kalashnikov.

  • It's estimated that a quarter of a million people are killed every year with an AK, which

  • if true means the AK could be responsible for over 18 million deaths.

  • Thus the AK family of rifles have killed almost as many people as the lowest estimates for

  • World War I.

  • This makes Mikhail Kalashnikov the single most dangerous human to have ever existed,

  • which is ironic for a man who originally wanted to be a poet.

  • To be fair, Kalashnikov did mention before dying that it made him nervous to see people

  • like Osama Bin Laden clutching his iconic firearm.

  • 7.

  • A troubling legacy

  • Mikhail Kalashnikov struggled throughout his life with the legacy he was leaving behind.

  • As the popularity of the AK grew and the weapon spread around the world, he was often questioned

  • about his invention.

  • In response, Kalashnikov often expressed that he'd rather he had invented something more

  • peaceful, such as a machine that helped farmers around the world.

  • However, the AK-47 was a tool of necessity, with Kalashnikov's work on it beginning during

  • World War II as he listened to complaints about Soviet weapons from fellow soldiers

  • and experienced his own frustrations.

  • With his country reeling from a devastating invasion that had left millions dead, Kalashnikov

  • put his talents towards creating a reliable rifle that in his own words was “a weapon

  • to be used for the protection of the borders of my Fatherland.”

  • He puts the blame on the massive casualties the rifle has caused on politicians who can't

  • find a solution other than war for their problems.

  • 6.

  • Kalashnikov made no money from his invention

  • If Mikhail Kalashnikov had been born in America, he would have been one of the richest men

  • on earth.

  • However, the Soviet Union looked dimly on things such as 'licensing', and while he received

  • the Order of Lenin three times and was made a Hero of the Russian Federation by Putin

  • sock-puppet President Dmitry Medvedev, Kalashnikov himself stated that he never made any money

  • off his invention.

  • With the fall of communism in Russia, the new liberal economy allowed Kalashnikov to

  • sell advertising rights to his name to various products, earning him some small income.

  • However, upon death at age 94 he was still living off a state pension.

  • The AK-47 made a huge impact almost immediately, but the Soviets did their best to keep it

  • a secret.

  • 5.

  • The gun was so good, it was a secret

  • The Soviets were no fools, and once the AK-47 had proven itself in tests undertaken by the

  • Red Army, the ever-paranoid Stalin ordered the rifle be kept as secret as possible.

  • That would be difficult for a weapon meant to be issued as a main battle rifle, so the

  • weapon was at first given only to Soviet special forces and elite units.

  • Its members were sworn to secrecy and inexperienced soldiers completely forbidden from even touching

  • the rifle.

  • As production ramped up and the weapon became available in greater numbers, the veil of

  • secrecy was eventually lifted out of necessity and every Soviet soldier got their hands on

  • the incredible rifle.

  • 4.

  • Americans love it so much, they bought as many as the Russian military

  • For a weapon originally meant to kill Americans, the US sure has fallen in love with it.

  • In 2012 the American public bought as many AKs as both the Russian military and police.

  • Maybe in the end our love for tools to kill each other with may be the thing that truly

  • unites us all and stops us from actually killing each other.

  • 3.

  • American love for the AK is helping arm America's potential rival though

  • Built in Russia, sales of AK rifles have surged- with most of those sales going to civilian

  • buyers.

  • Of civilian buyers, the vast majority are Americans, who make up 40% of all civilian

  • sales of AKs.

  • Ironically, profits from sales of AKs to Americans are directly funding the modernization of

  • Russian forces, in preparation of a future conflict with... you guessed it, Americans.

  • But with so many to choose from, it's hard not to love the AK.

  • 2.

  • A grand family legacy

  • There are 14 primary variants of the AK rifle, with the most recent being the AK-19, itself

  • an updated variant of the AK-12 which fired 5.45mm ammunition.

  • Designed for foreign buyers, likely looking to tap into the widespread availability of

  • nato 5.56mm ammunition, the AK-19 ditches the 7.62 cartridge for a 5.56 round.

  • 1.

  • The incredible vanishing rifle

  • The AK-47 has one other property unique amongst any other battle rifles- it has the ability

  • to disappear at will.

  • At least that's the best explanation for why during 2004-2005 the United States lost track

  • of 110,000 AK-47s it had purchased on behalf of Iraqi security forces.

  • Along with the incredible, vanishing AK-47, 80,000 pistols and millions in American taxpayer

  • money all disappeared as well, leaving no trace behind.

  • Now go check out Evolution of the AK-47 Rifle, or click this other video instead!

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How AK-47 Is Deadlier Than a Nuke

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    Summer posted on 2021/10/07